The early days - 1000 years of chinese domination- Liberation from china - China bites back - Le lo enters the scene - The coming of the europeans - Lording it over the people - Tay son rebrllion - The last of the nguyens - The french takeover - Independence aspiration - WWII breaks out - A false dawn - War with the french - A separate south vietnam - A new north vietnam - The north south war - Enter the cavalry - The turing point - Nixon his doctrine- Other foreign involvement - The fall of the south - Reunification of vietnam - Opening the door - Vietnam today


All US military personnel departed Vietnam in 1973, leaving behind a small contingent of technicians and CIA agents. The bombing of North Vietnam ceased and the US POWs were released. Still the war raged on, only now the South Vietnamese were fighting alone. In January 1975 the North Vietnamese launched a massive ground at­tack across the 17th Parallel using tanks and heavy artillery. The invasion provoked panic in the South Vietnamese army, which had always depended on the Americans. In March, the NVA occupied a strategic section of the central highlands at Buon Ma Thuot. South Vietnam 's president, Nguyen Van Thieu, decided on a strategy of tactical withdrawal to more defensible positions. This proved to be a spectacular military blunder. Whole brigades of ARVN soldiers disintegrated and fled southward, join­ing hundreds of thousands of civilians clogging Hwy 1. City after city - Hue. Danang, Quy Nhon. Nha Trang - were simply abandoned with hardly a shot fired. The ARVN troops were fleeing so quickly that the North Vietnamese army could barely keep up. Nguyen Van Thieu, in power since 1967, resigned on 21 April 1975 and fled the country , allegedly carting off millions of dollars in ill-gotten wealth. The North Vietnamese pushed on to Saigon and on the morning of 30 April 1975 their tanks smashed through the gates of Saigon's Independence Palace (now called Reunification Palace). General Duong Van Minh, president for just 42 hours, formally surrendered, marking the end of the war. Just a few hours before the surrender, the last Americans were evacuated by helicopter from the US embassy roof to ships stationed just offshore. Iconic images of US Marines booting Vietnamese people off their helicopters were beamed around the world. And so more than a quarter of a century of American military involvement came to a close. Throughout the entire conflict, the USA never actually declared war on North Vietnam. The Americans weren't the only on es who left. As the South collaps ed, 135,000 Vi etnamese also fled the country; in the next five years, at least half a million of their compatriots would do the same. Those who left by sea would become known to the world as 'boat people '. These refugees risked everything to undertake perilous journeys on the South China Sea. Pirates rap ed and pillaged, storms raged, but ev entually these hardy souls found a n ew life in places as diverse as Australia and France.